Thursday, October 18, 2012

My non-D&D retroclone / simulacrum

Good news - I have access to some computers here (two or three of them actually :D) but still have no direct access to mt rpg-related files. And I must admit that I like it - now I may focus on writing stuff for one of my weirdest projects.

I started my RPG career in 1997 when I was 13. Almost immediately I began to write my own rules system, mostly because I feel an urge to participate in co-creating of everything I'm in (mostly rpgs and music). Funny thing - yesterday I unearthed the notebook with that game, created between 1997 and 1999. Not surprisingly - it was rubbish. Clunky and extremely unclear rules wrote in some strange language, vaguely resembling Polish. But still, even after so many years, some basic ideas of that game are very appealing for me.

In february 2012 I decided to start writing some simulacrum game, not based on ideas of The First Game. Almost immediately I thought about my Legends of Rangor (that was the name of my very first game) but not about that rules per se, but - as I mentioned above - some basic ideas of it.

Okay, maybe I'll write something about them.

  • In LoR, stats were loosely based on DnD. There wasn't Wisdom, but I found place for Appearance. And it wasn't very important stat :D Stats range was about 4-12 for most of humans and as much as 20 for trolls (!). There were no rules about stat checks but I do believe that d20 might be used in that case. I have no idea - despite over three years of writing, game was never used. And despite its shittyness it kinda sucks.
  • Skills were percentile, with basic values derived from stats. In example, Two-handed Weapons skill initial value was STRx2 + DEX. Simple and quite clever, at least for 13-year old kid :D
  • There were some basic resistances/saving throws. Based solely on stats + racial mods (positive or negative).
  • Finally, most ridiculous thing - Hit Points were deteremined by STR multiplied by CON! It lead to some HUGE differences - elves with 25 HP and trolls with 400! But no one cared - as I mentioned before, game was never played, exept for hundreds of fights between premade chars and some monsters (there were many of them in a rulebook, and many more on some loose sheets of paper - I believe that I created more than 60 monster stat blocks and descriptions for that game).
As you can see, not-very-cool ideas. But I was really satisfied by it. Generally, it was a mix of loose ideas from really basic DnD-style stuff (as my first contact with D&D was in early 2000s - no shit! - I think that they were ripped from the instruction booklet for... Eye of the Beholder III!) and MERP. BTW, I grabbed MERP rulebook several days ago (unfortunately I'm not the owner of it) and shit! Liz Danforth - thank you for all those awesome images - they were really important part of my childhood!

Damn, I'm drowning in chaos! So let me return to the topic. In that time, most of homemade systems made by my friends were strangely distorted variations about WFRP rules. And that was the reason why I was so proud of mine! It was ORIGINAL! :D

Sooo, when I decided to create my non-DnD simulacra, I was thinking alot about my newest creations (both OSR-related, such as Underworld Kingdom and Bandits & Battlecruisers and non-oldschool) and that old, shitty Rangor stuff. Effects of that thinking, plus of course some basic research on overcomplicated RPGs from the eighties, are:
  • Purely percentile mechanics. Skills will be still based on stat level (at least during character creation), as well as HP (vitality points in this case).
  • There will be eight stats, not all based on DnD. Magial talent, Willpower and maybe something more. I don't remember right now.
  • Zero HP cannot kill you. But you'll drop unconscious and even one-handed, half-blind drunk goblin can finish you with one not very clean cut.
  • You may be critically hit regardless of your HP level. Pure luck, probably modified by armor.
  • Armor grants protection from damage, not ability to avoid attacks.
  • Gender-related stat differences (it's SO eighties!)
  • Strange, not necessarily canon playable races, strange game world. Lots of Rangor stuff will appear here, in the "world" / fluff section of the game.

Probably you'll ask me - why? Why are you wasting your time on this game? Eighties are over, man, no one wants that kind of games! Focus on your regular stuff! Your regular stuff is good so keep it alive!

The answer is simple - I'm making this game because I may and because I can. I'm making it for myself and maybe for my players. But I'm not sure if I want to run it! It's like making art for sake of making art :D I want to do it, I feel an unstoppable need to create it, so I'm doing it. If no one will be interested in it - it's okay. But if you want, I may post something more about it in the future. In the future, not now, because I must actually write more stuff - right now there is almost nothing to talk about! :D

(if I made some gross grammar/spelling mistakes in this text, please forgive me - it's 1 AM here and I'm rather sleepy)


  1. Do it! I prolly won't want to play it, but I'd read it (and nick any bits that interest me)and even if nobody's interested you should still do it. Because I may and because I can. is a great reason, but I also think all these different simulacra, clones, and rules add to the DIY DNA. Even the most obscure and uplayed of DIY games will leave some sort of impact, or inspiration that spins off into another project and adds to the community's Rules gene pool.

    It's also fun. Back in the day I used spend hour making (bad) rules sets based on whatever was my favourite game of the time.

    Ohh, and I started with T&T so you'll find no argument from me when it comes to Liz Danforth's awesomeness.

    1. I plan to release a limited run of printed version of this project. Also, maybe I'll release a PDF. But it will take a while - probably a year or so :D

  2. A year or so is quick by my (Redwald) standards> :)

    1. I work on Underworld Kingdom since january 2009 :D
      Kyrinn works on Urutsk since - if I remember correctly - since 1985 :D

  3. Dammit! Now I NEED to look up my Dragonquest houserules from 1987.